Alison Rose set to lead RBS after McEwan departs for New Zealand

Alison Rose

Royal Bank of Scotland is set to make Alison Rose its first female chief executive as Ross McEwan prepares to leave the taxpayer-owned lender.

Rose, head of commercial and private banking at RBS, is understood to have fought off competition from Ian Stuart, head of HSBC UK, and Mark Bailie, who leads Bó, RBS’s new digital bank.

The appointment would make Rose, 49, the first woman to run any of the big four banks — RBS, Barclays, Lloyds and HSBC.

Sir Howard Davies, RBS’s chairman, has been leading the hunt for McEwan’s successor since April.

Rose’s selection could be announced this week. It is subject to regulatory approval, which can cause delays. One source said the selection process had extra complexity as the government is the bank’s biggest investor with a 62.4% stake, a legacy of its £46bn bailout during the 2008 financial crisis.

Rose, who is also deputy chief of NatWest, worked with the Treasury on its review of female entrepreneurship. She joined NatWest in 1992; it was bought by RBS in 2000.

McEwan, who earned £3.6m last year, will take on the chief executive role at National Australia Bank.

RBS said: “Our next chief executive will be confirmed in due course, once an appointment has been made.”